The Jacksonville Jaguars are eyeing bigger goals in the 2015 NFL season, as the third year of a rebuild is when you expect to see some dividends on draft picks and free agent signings. In the 2014 NFL Draft, general manager David Caldwell focused on the offensive side of the ball, selecting four offensive players with his first four selections.
The offensive side of the ball is rife with youth and potential, but the defense is currently being anchored by a handful of veteran free agent signings, some of whom are on the downswing of their career.
NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein recently posted about some of the more intriguing draft prospects and compared them to a current NFL player. Here are some of the guys who would be great fits for the Jaguars:
"Dante Fowler, Jr., OLB, FloridaThe NFL comp: Khalil MackThe skinny: Both are very explosive movers and learning to play the game. When you watched Mack on tape last year, you could see him get better as the game went on as he figured things out. I think Fowler is in that mold. I think he will figure things out when he gets a full-time position instead of being moved around.Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi StateThe NFL comp: Brian CushingThe skinny: Both of them are big for the position and have limited lateral agility. However, both are physical. They will come downhill and hit you.Alvin “Bud” Dupree, OLB, KentuckyThe NFL comp: Jamie CollinsThe skinny: Collins tested off the charts at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2013, and Dupree is going to do the same this year. He’s going to jump high, run fast and have the same kind of explosive numbers that Collins did. Both have freakish closing burst and didn’t totally play to their talent in college. Collins unlocked it in the pros. We’ll see if Dupree can do the same."
In case it’s not clear, I really think the Jaguars should focus on building their linebacking corps in this draft. Telvin Smith appears to be a great piece, but he’s going to need some help around him. Paul Posluszny is expensive and getting up there in age, and quite frankly he’s never been more than above average. The Jaguars need speed and youth in the middle of the field to couple with their ascending secondary.
I haven’t really seen a lot of talk about Dante Fowler playing linebacker, and he’d likely be a LEO in the Jaguars’ defensive front, but his ability to rush the passer is undeniable.
The other two prospects, McKinney and Dupree, would be great fits alongside Telvin Smith. They would also have the advantage of being able to sit and learn if they need time to adjust since guys like J.T. Thomas and Geno Hayes have proven to be serviceable.